Panthers shut out Paris to win tourney

By Brian Rickerd Published:

Senior Travis Skelton and freshman Devin Craig scored one early goal each, senior goalkeeper Church Gray was again solid, and the Frankfort High Panthers rolled to the title in their own invitational Thursday with a 2-0 win over the Paris Greyhounds at Sower Soccer Complex.
FHS improved to 4-3 with its second consecutive shutout win, while Paris fell to 2-5-1.
Frankfort coach Sherrill Smith said he’s emphasized starting fast, and his team dutifully followed instructions Thursday, scoring both goals within the first five minutes and eight seconds.
At 37:16, Skelton got loose off the right side of the Paris goal and easily knocked home a shot, off an assist from junior Keenan Thurman.
At 34:52, the Panthers made it 2-0 when Craig scored off an assist from senior Bailey Spade.
“We really came out very well tonight to start the game,” Smith said. “ We wanted them to focus right off ... that was basically our message last night and today, and I felt like they did that.”
Smith referred to Wednesday’s 4-0 shellacking of Oneida Baptist in the tournament semifinals. Oneida came back Thursday to beat Louisville Holy Cross, 2-0, for third place, getting both goals from junior Alex Assa.
Spade said it “was really important” to get the jump on Paris in the final.
“When you get up that early, they let their heads down really quick,” said Spade, who made the all tournament team for FHS, along with teammates Skelton, Gray and junior Russell Lile.
The Greyhounds settled down somewhat after the rough early start, getting enough shots Gray’s way to keep the FHS goalie awake.
“Paris came at us really strong, but I thought we were a much better team overall,” Smith said. “When you look at the possession of the ball tonight, it was pretty substantial. The time of possession was 67 percent ours. We put together 19 strings of three passes or more, compared to their five.”
Smith, in fact, had few complaints other than possibly that his team misfired on several other scoring opportunities against Paris goalkeeper Jamaal Washington.
“Here we were sitting on a 2-0 lead and we had outshot them 16-8,” Smith said.
But, big picture, Smith could hardly be more pleased.
“Our passing game was really pretty solid,” Smith noted. “The kids were hitting the flag a little more tonight to make the wide run, and that’s what we’ve been looking for.
“Church has done a solid job in goal, having shutouts both nights, and I thought our defense — Liam May, Russell Lile and Jordan Perry — played solid. The communication has been sound.”
Spade agreed with his coach.
“We moved the ball really well in the midfield, especially in this championship game,” Spade said. “Some of our younger midfielders stepped up and passed well, and Travis (Skelton) was making better runs. Everybody looked better offensively.
“The defense is always good,” he added. “Church has been real good, especially for only starting like a year ago. He’s improved a whole lot.”
Washington and sophomores Rayce Harrison and Dag Salinas made the all-tournament team for Paris.
Assa and junior Noble Zika made all tournament for Oneida Baptist, and seniors Michael Ray and John Wright made all-tournament for Holy Cross.
Paris beat Holy Cross, 3-1, in Wednesday’s semifinals.
Frankfort hosts Bath County Wednesday at
6 p.m.

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